Kashmir is a strange place, to begin with. The state, even stranger. And us Kashmiris ruled by the ‘strangers’ making things even stranger. Eerie, basically.
Think about someone trying to uproot a chinar and then plant a lotus instead. Wierd, isn’t it?
Chinar isn’t an ordinary tree, it doesn’t represent Kashmir simply for the sake of it.
Chinar has been a witness to everything, every single thing Kashmir witnessed in the past. From witnessing Jamia caught in a blazing fire to being turned into a stable and then streams of blood flowing in an around it in 1931.
From the conquest of Kashmir by Akbar to pellet firing in 2016, Chinars have witnessed all.
From the historic 1987 elections (and then rigging) to the historic boycott in 2017, Chinars have seen it all.
It’s like an old grandfather who has seen and gone through everything firsthand. All the treasures of painful as well as joyful memories hidden in the crevices of the skin. However bad the things be on the outside, they’ll always provide shade and make every effort to keep you happy. The fiery red leaves in autumn, another testimony to testing times in our lives.
Ever thought of anyone killing his/her great great grandfather because the house can no longer accommodate more people, and now that we have to make space for playhouses for the children?
However much weird it might seem, that’s somewhat similar to what’s happening in Kashmir. Behind the curtains of development, our land has been made to sacrifice time and again. The most recent victim of this unplanned development is the mighty Chinar. State government’s plan to turn Srinagar into a smart city under the master plan remains a mystery as to whether they want to do it at the cost of sacrificing our heritage.
Is it an environmental issue? Most certainly, yes. But more importantly, we have an emotional bond with the Chinar. Chinar is our heritage, our identity, and our refuge.
This reminds me of Aurangzeb’s orders to prioritise on saving Chinars when Jamia Masjid caught fire during late Mughal rule.
Today many youths took to the bustling area of Srinagar where the casualties happened and made a human chain to mourn as well as protect the Chinars. Will the state wake up and stop the slaughter they are committing themselves or we’ll lose this valuable heritage like we lose so many lives each year? Only time will tell.